HOST: We’re talking to Democratic Senate candidate and former governor Tim Kaine. Mr. Kaine, the Buffett Tax, popularly called–I think the Senate is supposed to vote on that next week. Kind of controversial I guess, in a way.
TIM KAINE: Yeah, I mean, here’s my thought about it, Rick. I don’t have any problem with the content of that folks who make more should pay more, that folks who are doing really well should pay a higher tax rate than secretaries and others. So the content of it is fine, but I do question a little bit the priority of doing this right now, and let me tell you why: If the Buffett Rule passes, that will help reduce the deficit by $45 billion over 10 years. But right now, Congress has, sitting on its desk, the question of, “What do we do with the Bush tax cuts that are set to expire at year end?” That’s nearly $4 trillion—nearly $4 trillion—of deficit reduction.
HOST: So you’re tripping over dimes to pick up pennies.
KAINE: Yeah, you’re having a big battle about what is one percent of the big issues on the table, and I don’t see any evidence that Congress is really talking about much about what’s going to happen with the Bush tax cuts. What I would do? I’d let them expire over $500,000. If you did that, you’d reduce the deficit by over $500 billion—so we’re not talking about a Buffett Rule that is a $47 billion over a decade in deficit reduction. If you let the Bush tax cuts expire over $500,000, that’s over $500 billion of deficit reduction. I think what they’re going to do—what worries me—is that they’re going to have a big fight over the Buffett Rule, then they’ll have a big fight about some other little one-off proposal that somebody throws on the table, and they’ll get to year end, and they won’t have talked about the issue that is on the table, that needs a resolution, that is the big ticket issue. So, you’re right, tripping over dimes to pick up pennies is—tripping over dollar bills to pick up pennies is what they’re doing.